Forty Days of Mourning and Returning
The call to action continues to reverberate. Just over a week ago the school boards in San Francisco and Oakland both voted unanimously to remove police from all campuses in their districts. Such landmark decisions are the consequence of the passionate demands for justice in the wake of George Floyd's murder, but also decades of steady grassroots work on the part of Bay Area organizers, activists, and community members.
Meanwhile, thousands of people throughout the Bay Area continue to take to the streets in marches, rallies, bike and car caravans, and vigils. To stay up-to-date on what's happening you can see a calendar of events here. One particularly special mobilization this past weekend was the 50th anniversary commemoration of LGBT Pride in San Francisco, signifying the powerful intersection and synergy of the LGBT and Black Lives Matter movements. The historic march was attended by thousands.
Here at East Point we've begun to direct much of our energy toward a very special 40-day campaign that's gearing up to launch on July 4th. It's called Reparations Procession 2020. The procession will begin the morning of the 4th, with one mourner - a white-identifying person dressed in mourning clothes - walking 8.5 miles from West Berkeley Shellmound (sacred site of the Ohlone people) to Fruitvale Station (site of the murder of Oscar Grant). A single mourner will make this prayerful journey every day, until a total of $25,000 of reparations funds from white people in the Bay Area have been returned to the Black and Indigenous communities here, in the form of redistribution to local Black and Indigenous-led organizations and initiatives. After $25,000 has been returned, a second mourner will join the procession. Two mourners will now walk the route every day until $50,000 has been redistributed. And so on…
Four mourners will represent $100,000 of reparations. Forty mourners will represent $1 million.
A spiritual process of grieving and atoning for the immeasurable harms of white supremacy, alongside the concrete movement of resources from the white community to Black and Indigenous-led groups, represents a powerful expression of the spirit of Fierce Vulnerability that East Point is all about. We're excited to support this unusual and hopeful project, and we hope you will be too. While the mourners in this procession will be white-identifying people, and the ask for reparations is being directed to the white community, there are plenty of ways for people of color to get involved too. Wherever you are on the identity spectrum, if you want to get involved send us an email: email@example.com. And stay tuned for another announcement when the campaign's GoFundMe page goes live, so we can all spread the word and get those resources moving!
I have been working inside San Quentin State Prison, California's oldest prison, for close to 10 years. In that time, I have met countless people dedicating their lives to peacemaking, and have witnessed incredible courage and transformation. There are dozens and dozens of men inside this prison that I have come to know and to care deeply about.
That is especially why it has been so scary to read updates about the coronavirus outbreak there. On May 30th, CDCR transferred 121 men from the California Institute for Men, a prison in Chino, CA that was dealing with its own outbreak to San Quentin. Despite there being over 500 active cases of coronavirus in that prison at the time, and despite the fact that the 121 people transferred were considered "highly vulnerable," many of them had not received a test in 2-3 weeks.
At the time of the transfer, San Quentin had no recorded cases of coronavirus. As of this morning, there are 1,082 cases among the inmate population, with hundreds more staff being infected.
San Quentin houses a large population of older inmates. In addition to so many people being vulnerable to the virus, they are not receiving proper medical care or enough personal protection equipment such as soap and sanitizer. The entire prison is locked down, with men who have been tested positive being housed in temporary tents set up on the main yard.
San Quentin has a total inmate population of just over 3,500, which means that almost one in three incarcerated people have now tested positive, most of them in the past two weeks alone. And these numbers are with a lack of adequate testing, which means that the real numbers are most likely higher than that.
We are asking everyone in our community to support the incarcerated people of San Quentin, and that prison and state officials act immediately to protect their health, well-being and basic human rights.
And contact these people:
Governor Gavin Newsom; Public Comment form: govapps.gov.ca.gov/gov40mail/; (916) 445-2841
Ralph Diaz CDCR Secretary; firstname.lastname@example.org; (916) 324-7308
Assemblymember Marc Levine, Assemblymember.Levine@assembly.ca.gov; (415) 479-4920
Senator Mike McGuire; email@example.com; (415) 479-6612
Mayor of San Rafael; firstname.lastname@example.org; (415) 485-3074
Dr. Diana Toche, Undersecretary Health Care Services, Diana.Toche@cdcr.ca.gov
Office of the Inspector General (OIG): Complaint form: https://www.oig.ca.gov/connect/report-complaint/; (800) 700-5952
- Tami Falconer, Ombudsman; email@example.com; (916) 324-5448
- CDCR’s COVID-19 Triage Department; firstname.lastname@example.org
- Jennifer Barretto, Director, Health Care Policy and Administration, California Correctional Health Care Services; Jennifer.Barretto@cdcr.ca.gov
- Assemblymember Ash Kalra: email@example.com, firstname.lastname@example.org (916) 319-2027, (408) 277-1220
- Senator Nancy Skinner: email@example.com, firstname.lastname@example.org, (510) 286-1333, (916) 651-4009
- Senator Scott Wiener: email@example.com, firstname.lastname@example.org, (415) 557-1300, (916) 651-4011
Much more information, including sample scripts/emails, links to news coverage, social media images to share and more are in the resource list linked above. Our thanks to groups like the Ella Baker Center and Insight-Out Prison Project for helping to lead the charge.
Please do what you can to share information with your community.
Dear Beloved Community,
As you know, we've always maintained a strong commitment to financial transparency. This means that we've sometimes shared news with you that hasn't always been pleasant. And unfortunately, we're in a bit of a pinch right now and we are asking for your support!
As you may know, we've recently switched to a new website. Not only did we switch over to a new website, we left our fiscal sponsor and shifted over to our own nonprofit status, which means that we can start taking in donations directly without a fee.
This means that payments from all of our monthly donors were cancelled, and we sent emails to you all and asked you to sign up again in our new system.
Aaaaannnndd, that's where the problem started. There is something wrong with our new system, and we have been in contact with tech support for weeks trying to figure it out, but many people are having problems donating through our new site.
This means that 1) we are currently not getting the steady income we typically get from our monthly donors, and 2) it's possible that we may lose a bunch of our monthly donors by the time we figure this out.
As an organization that relies HEAVILY on support from our community, this is a major loss for us, especially in the midst of the current economy.
So we are asking our community for support. If you can make a one-time contribution of any amount to help hold us over until we are able to fix this technical problem, we would be so grateful.
We know that times are hard for so many of us right now, and that there are so many worthy causes to support in this historical moment, particularly for the Movement for Black Lives. But if our work has ever supported you in any way, if it would give you any joy to support the future sustainability of our work, please help us by donating what you can.
There are links to our current donate page as well as an alternative donation process in the links above.
We thank all of you in advance, for all you do to support us and for all you do to support the expansion of Beloved Community.
After much delay and a few technical glitches, we are SO excited to welcome you to our new website!!!
This new site, built on the NationBuilder platform, will allow us to do more than ever to be in service to you all. We are excited to launch new events, offer new ways for people to engage with us, and make the user experience easier on your end with a streamlined registration process for all of our events.
The first two videos from our Where Do We Go From Here speaker series, with George Lakey and Erica Chenoweth, are now live for viewing on YouTube! If you missed these calls, or if you’d like to watch them again, check them out here and share them with your friends!!!
Join us for our next call with Miki Kasthan, who will present on the topic of “Exiting the Either/Or Trap: Beyond Consensus vs. Command and Control.” Future videos will all be posted on our YouTube Channel!
George Lakey: The Importance of Vision Amidst COVID-19
Erica Chenoweth: Innovations in Nonviolent Direct Action Under Crisis
We hope that this message finds you and all of your loved ones in good health. We are writing an important update about the Bay Area regional organizing of the Yet-To-Be-Named Network. If you have been, or are wanting to be involved in the Network, please read this message.
We have decided to postpone our next monthly gathering by one-week.
As you know, the YTBN Network is committed to working at the intersection of climate justice and racial healing. And in accordance with our commitment to Fierce Vulnerability, we need to be transparent with you about our process even if it may be challenging or vulnerable to share.
As we stated in our zine (attached here, the statement is on page 32), the Network was founded initially by a largely white community of activists committed to climate action and racial reparations. Partially as a result of this, the makeup of the core community who have been leaning into the design of this Network has also been largely white. This has been an ongoing struggle for those of us in the Network – including the People of Color (POC) who have been at the center of this work.
As we move closer to launching the Network and building teams, we have noticed that some of our larger gatherings in the Bay Area have not represented the diversity of this region. While we have made efforts to address that – including ensuring that at least 50% of participants in our Fierce Vulnerability workshops have been POC – we have also had to be honest about our ongoing mourning of the lack of visibility of some members of our community, particularly Black and Indigenous folks.
We know that the dominant culture of white supremacy is pervasive. Without taking proactive steps to combat it, having the intention of equity, diversity and sharing of power is not enough. As we sat down to plan the upcoming monthly gathering we quickly realized two things. The first was the need to grapple honestly together about the lack of racial representation in our gatherings. The second was that this should be a process centered on hearing from you, the Bay Area YTBN community.
Changes to the next monthly gathering: Our next monthly gathering, originally planned for this Friday the 24th, is being postponed one-week to Friday, May 1st. This will give the Bay Area Coordinating Collective a little bit more time to think through how we want to hold this space.
When we come together on May 1st, we will join our entire community in some welcoming, grounding and framing, then we will go into caucuses of those who identify as white, and those who identify as POC. In those separate groups, we will reflect, share and offer feedback to this process which we hope will help guide our next steps as part of the YTBN network. .
We are also making this event only for those who A) are based in the San Francisco Bay Area, and B) have been or have interest in being involved in the YTBN Network.
We know that some who may want to offer feedback into this process may not be able to join us at our next gathering. If that is the case, we invite everyone to fill out this online feedback form, so everyone’s valuable input can be added into the mix
We are so honored to be in this process with each of you. May it lead to deeper understanding and transformative next steps!
The Bay Area YTBN Network Coordinating Collective
Aimee, Chris, Kazu, Morgan
Astrid Montuclard has become such a dedicated and essential volunteer here at East Point Peace Academy that we were thrilled to welcome her to East Point’s “core team” in early March. In recognition of this special occasion, and to introduce you to her – if you haven’t met her already – I interviewed Astrid shortly thereafter. Our conversation delved into Astrid’s deep commitment to nonviolence, her thoughts on some of the implications of the Covid-19 crisis for future social change work, and what it takes to take care of ourselves as changemakers in a terribly complicated world.
Welcome to East Point’s core team Astrid!!
What excites you about working with East Point?
Working with East Point is my dream come true – really. I fell in love with East Point’s work in March 2018 and have been true to this calling since then, as a volunteer for the organization and an actor for peace in other spaces. I deeply, deeply believe in the power of embodied nonviolence. As a healer in training, I cannot think of a better environment to allow my vocation to flourish. Nonviolence is one piece of the puzzle, and that is the one I want to bring to the table.
I’m super excited to have this chance to work with you and Kazu leading up to the launch of the Yet-To-Be-Named Network, and in the important nonviolence and trauma healing programs East Point is doing in Bay Area prisons, as well as curriculum development for trainings, such as Fierce Vulnerability. [Check out Astrid’s blog post about her experience as a participant of the Fierce Vulnerability training here.]
I’m also hoping to become certified in Kingian Nonviolence so I can start facilitating Kingian workshops with East Point’s team of trainers.
How did you get involved in social change work?
As a little kid, I used to dream about changing the world while playing with Barbies. My dolls represented six continents and held United Nations Peace Council meetings in my bedroom with signs and crayons. I guess that was the birth of my social engagement! As a teen growing up in Tahiti, I was somewhat disconnected from wider, more complex issues but felt strongly about bringing simple practices such as recycling and electing eco-representatives in each class of my high school.
When I entered college in 2013, I temporarily moved away from advocacy and gave my focus to athletics. I was an NCAA I Cross-Country/Track Student-Athlete for the University of Iowa. I eventually left the track team – largely because I realized that running around in circles on a track wasn’t helping anyone! Some friends and I became Student Government Senators and worked on bringing funding for the university’s mental health programs while launching a mental health disorder prevention campaign on campus. Through this, I became more aware of the way money rules the game, and how politics influence the channeling of resources to or away from underserved communities.
It was when I got involved with East Point that my psyche opened up to systems thinking and wider theories of social change – and their practical aspects on the ground. After the Kingian workshop in March 2018, the resonance that I felt with nonviolence as a way of life was so strong that I could not not answer the inner calling that I felt.
What key learnings are you drawing from the coronavirus crisis? What do you think we can take from this experience to strengthen our actions in the future?
Many of us can now feel in our bodies that we might be more vulnerable to social and personal break-down than we initially thought we were. Business-as-usual and routines are powerful forces that kept us from questioning our social structures, beliefs, and daily behaviors before Covid-19. Now, these forces are dispersed, and we do not only know mentally that we are vulnerable, as we might have before, we also know it experientially. Being confronted with governmental inadequacy, interpersonal conflicts, financial shortages, and anxiety attacks is a whole new other level of understanding of our fragility. Obviously many many people have experienced these realities for a very long time, but a lot of us who haven’t been used to that level of experience are now getting a taste of it.
As a result of a heightened awareness of personal vulnerability, I am sensing that many of us are increasingly moving towards seeking for what actually works and what actually brings us ease, meaning, and balance as we aim to soften the pain of these times. Covid-19 seems to be magnifying the impact of certain dynamics that were already in place before the pandemic – and showing their harm – or benefits – clearly. No aspect is spared: lifestyle, workstyle, choice of relationship, personal health practices. I don’t know anyone who isn’t going over at least one of these aspects with a fine-tooth comb right now. Living creatures, when subjected to strain, strive to return to a natural sense of balance that feels truly good, and I think that is what is happening for many of us right now.
Because of the climate unraveling, we might be headed into long periods of social unrest and disruption of business as usual. Covid-19 is preparation for such times. Regardless of what happens in the future, sheltering-in-place is an opportunity to feel in our bodies what works and what doesn’t work – that is, what contributes to keeping us balanced and grounded, and what doesn’t. Communicating what we learn from this with our loved ones, community members, and direct-action teammates is an important way to build the care, intimacy, and trust that I believe is the glue of the world. That kind of care, intimacy, and trust is what I see East Point cultivating, and I’m so grateful to be a part of that.
How do you sustain your personal well-being while showing up for this work?
To me, well-being is highly correlated with my ability to show up within myself and in the world in an authentic, loving, centered, nonviolent, and meaningful way. My personal well-being is not only influenced by what I do for myself – it is also greatly influenced by who I interact with, where, and what I do with them – and how I relate to the whole of it. There are several things I focus on.
One of them I would call making “whole-hearted choices”. I have the privilege to be able to prioritize activities and folks that I deeply believe in and which bring me alive. When I am engaged, I encounter more energy-harvesting situations, which replenish my stocks of joy and hope, and in turn keep me healthy. My challenge, these days, is about saying “no” to opportunities that I know I would enjoy – because there are so many of them coming my way.
Learning to engage with intention in monogamous and non-monogamous romantic relationships, which healthily support everyone involved, is another thing that nurtures my ability to thrive and stay regulated. Societal stigma still plagues polyamory, but I find it to be a fascinating exploration of commitment, love, accountability, pleasure, attachment, conflict, and much more. Navigating the tough situations that come with romance and talking openly about where I’m at helps me stay connected with my true needs and aspirations, as well as my partner’s. This strengthens our capacity to cultivate authentic connections and support one another in tough moments.
Closely related to this is the work of navigating conflict. As hard as it can be – and I am certainly not perfect at it- dealing with conflicts as they arise within myself and with others allows me to feel more grounded and less in my head. As a conditioned conflict avoidant, increasing my ability to engage in conflict also increases my sense of empowerment, which then leads me to make whole-hearted choices – and reduces my stress. Practicing Mindful Nonviolent Communication with Oren Jay Sofer has been a game-changer in that way for me – highly recommended.
The last thing I’ll share is that I’m doing my best to have the various things that I do interconnected in a way that creates a sense of flow and coherence in my life. A couple of pre-shelter-in-place examples are socializing with friends at activism-related events, or practicing meditation in the street while holding climate-related signs to raise awareness. At the end of the day, living an authentic life, to me, is the best way to cultivate well-being.
Is there anything else you would like to add before we close?
Mmmm… I’ve really been resonating with the insight that “What is in the way is the way” – and I’ve been working on gaining a clearer sense of how my actions impact others, even in micro-ways. For this reason I’d love for our community members and friends to feel free to reach out with constructive feedback about how they experience me when we collaborate or share space together.
All living beings grow by receiving resources from other parts of their own organism. This is true for organizations too. I would love to facilitate information flow through our East Point organism to foster positive learning and growth, for myself and for the organization as a whole.
East Point is thrilled to announce our Where Do We Go From Here? Virtual speaker series!!! We are so grateful and excited to hear from movement veterans, experts and scholars about how we can be thinking about progressive movements in times of the COVID-19 pandemic.
As many have already pointed out, this moment is not just about tragedy and crisis. It is also one that has opened up incredible opportunities for us. Opportunities for us to slow down and reflect. Opportunities to prioritize how we are building and strengthening relationships. To reconnect with the earth. To see how our social systems are breaking down, and to envision what we can build in its place. To be creative.To reimagine. To be ever more loving to one another.
We are announcing our first batch of confirmed speakers and dates here, but check our website and sign up for our email list for more announcements in the near future!
Thu, April 23rd @ 3PM – 4:30 PM PST/6PM – 7:30PM EST
Thu, April 30th @ 3PM – 4:30 PM PST/6PM – 7:30PM EST
Mon, May 11th @ 11AM – 12:30PM PST/2PM – 3:30 PM EST
Restorative Justice practitioner Dominic Barter, revolutionary Reverend Lynice Pinkard and formerly incarcerated organizer Susan Burton have also been confirmed, dates TBA.
Check back with our website for more virtual offerings coming soon!
Our house is on fire — let’s act like it!
As most East Point supporters know, our organization has been connecting the dots between the climate crisis and social injustice for a long time now. Given the scientific facts, humanity’s continuing plunder of people and planet is nothing short of insane. It becomes increasingly evident with each passing day that our beautiful planet’s life support systems are in grave danger, and that none of the struggles we are all engaged in will have a fighting chance unless climate catastrophe is averted.
We urge the entire community of East Point supporters to follow the lead of young climate strikers all over the world and strike from work and school on September 20th!
The 350 Bay Area youth activist group Youth vs. Apocalypse has put out the call:
“On September 20th, starting at 10 at 90 7th St. in San Francisco, we call for a youth-led climate strike march, going to different targets that are contributing to the climate breakdown, leaving our mark to let these places know what we are fighting for. We will start at the office of the Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi and will connect targets in government, finance, and energy. For those that can’t join in person, we will be asking people to post on social media and tag our targets.”
“On September 27th, youth and adults will head over to Chevron’s headquarters to demand them to contribute in repairing the harm they have done to the people, the environment, and other species. Together we will demand them to promise to become the first gas/oil company to switch to an all green renewable system, and stop producing fossil fuels by 2025.”
What could be more important than heeding the call of our young people on September 20th? Is a Friday at work or school more important than this?!
Phew…. It’s been close to a week since coming back from the Fierce Vulnerability conference at Seabeck, and I feel like I’m just now catching my breath (before taking off for Boston tomorrow!). What a time.
As many of you know, I started facilitating workshops almost 20 years ago, and have been doing so full-time since 2012. Last weekend was one of my proudest moments yet in my life as a trainer. 19 trainers and over 190 participants. I was so proud of the work that we all – all 200 of us – did over that weekend.
If you haven’t heard the backstory yet, we received a call from our friends at the Fellowship of Reconciliation (FOR) almost a year ago. FOR’s Northwest Regional Council has had an annual conference at Seabeck, WA for 61 consecutive years! This year, they wanted to do something different. Instead of a traditional conference with multiple workshops and a keynote speaker, they wanted to partner with East Point Peace Academy to organize a single themed workshop: Fierce Vulnerability.
Fierce Vulnerability is our newest workshop, something that has taken on a life of its own since we launched it last November. We have had long waiting lists for each workshop we’ve done, and requests from all over the country for it. While we are still beginning to understand what Fierce Vulnerability means to us ourselves, we do know that the way we are discussing it is resonating with many people around the country.
Fierce Vulnerability is about trying to build a powerful, direct action movement that has the fierceness to shut down highways and the vulnerability to open up our hearts. It is about acknowledging that we need to escalate our tactics in order match the escalated levels of violence that we are witnessing across society, but doubling down on our commitment to hold the dignity of all people. It is about reclaiming the militancy of nonviolence, while knowing that for us, the work of resistance is about healing our traumas and repairing our relationships.
With this in mind, our incredible team of 19 trainers from East Point as well as the Yet-To-Be-Named Network spent two days in Bainbridge Island preparing ourselves, and introduced this concept to close to 200 participants over three-days.
This was my third time presenting at Seabeck, and one of the most incredible things is hearing stories from elders who have not only been active longer than I’ve been alive, but many who have been coming to the same conference every year for that long. This was why it was such an honor to hear from so many that this was the best Seabeck conference they’ve attended yet.
Gordon Glick, a longtime participant, wrote “the training session I just completed at the Seabeck Conference was the best sustained immersion in nonviolent civil disobedience I have ever attended; I’ll be 66 in a couple of weeks.”
Lisa Kaufman, another participant shared similar thoughts; “The conference really was one of the best experiences of my life.
“I’ve never experienced better leadership. It was clear they had figured something out about working together in a cooperative, supportive way. How they were with each other was a rare and outstanding model.
“I loved what the Peace Academy and yet-to-be-named network have figured out about direct action. The ideas the team shared were fresh, deep, and intelligent. And the way they shared them communicated that we didn’t need to pretend to be ahead of where we were. That made it possible to move forward.”
We had our ups and downs like any workshop, but our team responded well to all of them, and we were able to create a safe enough container for so many people to open up their hearts, share their tears, and envision a powerful, militant and loving movement of direct action.
In an activist culture that so often relies on “calling people out” to deal with conflicts, we were able to respond to a conflict that emerged at the conference in what I thought was a deeply loving way – a way that brought us closer together and that resulted in some important lessons and a commitment to do better.
As one of our trainers, Nathan Kleban said, “It was amazing to not just talk about fierce vulnerability, but also to practice and see it in action. My heart glows when conflict serves to bring us closer together, as I believe happened during the conference.”
Tim Nafziger, another trainer, echoed those thoughts. “A powerful synergy for this training was the way we were both able to train in fierce vulnerability and practice it at the same time. As in many communities, there were elephants in the room during our time together from ongoing conflict. Participants were able to discuss the dynamics around that conflict and the facilitators came together to support that work.”
As Malidoma Some once wrote, “conflict is the spirit of the relationship asking itself to deepen.” Through this conflict, and the tears and difficult conversations that it led to, we were all able to deepen in relationship.
I’ll close with a quote from Sierra Pickett, East Point board member and also a trainer during the weekend. “Participating in this work shows me how possible and fun, difficult and beautiful transformation can be. It cannot only happen but it can happen within those of us who are uncertain. This was a once in a lifetime, magical experience where I also created family along the way, people with whom I can cultivate community, face unjust systems and simply explore what it means to be human. This weekend truly gave me hope.”
THANK YOU SEABECK!!!